Go GREEN: Save Money and Paper!

June 14, 2012

The amount of paper used in offices each year in the United States is staggering. Over 71 million tons of paper and paper board is used, 33% of which has been previously recycled.  The average office worker uses 10,000 a sheets each year, in spite of the increased use of e-mail. There are other ways to limit the amount of paper used, some of which are readily accomplished.

One of the most widely published tips for paper conservation in offices is to print on both sides of paper whenever possible. It may seem obvious but it does decrease the amount of paper used by half and therefore always bears repeating.

Have your return address printed directly on envelopes, eliminating the need for mailing labels.

Use e-mail and include a note in your signature asking the recipient to save the file electronically until a hard copy is needed. Chances are it will never need to be printed.

Recycle. The environmental impact is significant; less timber is used and the environment benefits in numerous other ways as well. Less energy and chemicals are required and the contribution to climate change is reduced. In addition, recycling plants add less pollutants to both air and water. Recycling is considered preferable to incineration because a resource is wasted and burning paper contributes to air pollution, generating a toxic ash.

The bottom line is use less and recycle what you do use. You’ll save both money and the environment in which we all live!

Five Tips for Cyclists

May 24, 2012

Cycling to work is not only a GREEN alternative that’s environment-friendly, it’s also a great way to save money on gas and squeeze in a portion of your daily exercise.  However, for many people the prospect of navigating traffic and other considerations can initially make the proposition seem a bit daunting. Here are a few tips that might help to get you started or make your experience more pleasant if you’re already pedaling to the office each day.

1. Many people resist cycling to work because it entails physical effort which can culminate in sweating. No one wants to arrive at work smelling as if they’ve just spent time in a gym. If there are showers at the office, that’s not a problem but what if there aren’t?  Fortunately, there are alternatives. Store packaged wipes in your desk or cubicle and use them to freshen up when you arrive. If you’re not a fan of that solution, bring along a clean wash cloth and a travel-size tube of liquid soap. A quick stop in the restroom prior to taking a seat at your desk and you’re set for the day.

2.  Find the best route. Either consult with co-workers who already bike to the office or plan one of your own using Google’s bike map.

3. Plan a practice ride in advance of an actual work day. That will afford you an estimate of the amount of time you’ll need to allow for your commute and also make you aware of any potential problems or obstacles.

4.  Verify that your bike has no mechanical or tire issues before setting out each day. Maintain proper tire pressure and check to see if there are any abnormalities or tread wear on the surface of the tire.  Also inspect the chain, looking for loose or damaged links. Keep the chain clean.

5.  Consider installing a rear rack on your bike in which to store the things you normally take with you to the office. A backpack can suffice but they can be cumbersome and hot, affording another place for perspiration to collect.

Happy biking!  The environment, your wallet and your body thank you!

Five Ways to Make Your Commute Productive

March 29, 2012

The threat of continued hikes in gasoline prices is prompting more commuters to opt for a form of public transportation or carpooling to ease the strain on their budget. If you’re one of them, note that in addition to saving money — and reducing your carbon footprint — you’re also potentially gaining time to chisel away at tasks or spend time in other pursuits that can enhance your day.

1. Get a head start on work.  Use your cell phone or tablet to coordinate your calendar, do on-line research, or review forms and documents. It will make the day less stressful overall, potentially allowing you to build some down time into the midst of it.

2.  Read or listen to audio books. Choose topics that can advance your career or, alternatively, simply listen to books that inspire and entertain you. It’s no secret that readers are usually better writers so indulge in the pastime with assurances that the presentations and papers you create with be better for having done it.

3.  Learn a different language.  Planning a trip to Europe, Asia, or South America?  Even if you’re not, learning a foreign language can be a satisfying and career building experience, especially in today’s increasingly global economy.

4,  Write!  Use the time to catch up on e-mail, draft a proposal or presentation, or edit one that you’ve already written. Alternatively, begin or continue a personal journal. Keeping a journal can have many positive benefits, including clarification of goals, insights into personal and professional relationships, and reduction of stress levels that can accompany indecision or confusion.

5.  Take a class. There are countless distance learning opportunities that can broaden your horizons both professionally and personally. Sign up and use your commute time to accomplish what’s required.

How Does Your Garden Grow

March 22, 2012

If you’re a gardening enthusiast and have an interest in eating healthier, consider growing part of your lunch in your office.  There are numerous possibilities but tomatoes are a favorite around our office and we’re looking forward to picking them straight from the vine. Container gardening can be a bit tricky but if you pay attention to a few important details the outcome will be well worth the effort. Prepare, plant, and enjoy!

Select the largest container that your office can reasonably accommodate and position it where it gets the most light. If you don’t have a window, no problem, you can readily purchase a plant light that will serve the same purpose. You can grow up to two plants for each light. Tomatoes need up to 6 hours of day of direct sunlight so keep that in mind when deciding whether a light is necessary.

If you don’t have a lot of available space, you’ll need to opt for dwarf determinate tomato plants. They’re not as tall and tend to not be as sprawling, a very good thing when growing the plant indoors. Otherwise, place the plant in a large full planter, insert a wooden stake and tie the plant’s leaves and stalks to it as it grows.

Properly watered soil is the primary factor in tomato-growing success. Too much water will cause the plant to wilt and will stunt its growth.  Too little water will result in fruit that doesn’t reach normal size. A general rule of thumb is to water daily if the pot you’re using has adequate drainage. To prevent fungus from growing in the soil, spritz the surface of it weekly with a mixture of garlic and water.

Pay special attention, do it right, and soon you’ll be enjoying the literal fruits of your labor!

Tomatoes extract lots of nutrients from the soil so be sure to fertilize per package directions. In addition, be sure that the pl

Makes Your Valentine’s Day GREEN

January 19, 2012

Henry David Thoreau suggested that there is no remedy for love but to love more. Perhaps this Valentine’s Day we might all consider applying that to the planet, too, by making choices that are GREEN. The recipient of your gift, gesture, or card is likely to be just as pleased and, in some cases, you can even save money.

Here’s a few ways to think in terms of not just red this holiday, but GREEN.

You don’t need to buy something to express your affection. Why not give that special person a hand-written certificate that’s redeemable for a favorite home-cooked meal, a week’s worth of running time-consuming errands, a massage, or similar.

Send an e-greeting or use re-cycled materials to create a card for the special people in your life. Additionally, consider helping your children do the same. Nearly a billion Valentine’s Day cards are purchased world-wide each year, second in number only to Christmas.

Choose flowers that are organically grown and / or locally. Fewer chemicals and less distance traveled are conducive to less negative impact on our environment.

If hosting a party, try to plan a menu that includes locally grown foods. Also, minimize the number of disposable plates, napkins and cups or opt for those made of recycled materials.

HallowGREEN Costume Central

October 13, 2011

It’s October and that means it’s time for HallowGreen! We’ve searched the Internet for eco-friendly costume ideas, some of which are as fun to read about as to wear! (Most are budget-friendly, too.)

For example, want to dress as a compact fluorescent bulb?  Combine a form-fitting top (shirt, jersey) and bottom (pants, leggings) with a pair of white tennis shoes.  Inflate white biodegradable balloons and wrap them around your chest and hips. You’ll be the eco-friendly light of the party! 

The same site also suggests dressing as a “GREEN” business. Just wear an all green suit and tie. (What? You don’t have one? No problem. Improvise with matching shirt, pants or skirt made green by eco-friendly dye.) If you’d like to complete the look, use home-made paints to color your face and hair.

Want to send a message?  Attend the festivities as the Halloween garbage ghost!  Ask family and friends to save wrappers from candy and other snack items. Attach to clothing by stitching with thread or apply with glue. Voila!  A reminder of how much waste is generated by the holiday.

Or, perhaps you’d prefer to dress as something that doesn’t shout GREEN but nonetheless is. Wrap aluminum foil made from recycled aluminum around you body. Next, make a foil wrapped cone-shaped hat, grab an oil can, and you’re the Tin Man of Wizard of Oz fame.

Some of our other favorites include static cling (simply attach socks, underwear, etc. to your clothes with hidden safety pins), an iPod (black body suit with a cardboard placard on your chest), and the wind. (Using hair gel, push all of your hair up and toward the back. Attach florist ribbon to either a hair ribbon or insert a wire into a necktie, fasten around neck, then bend to make it look as if it’s being supported by the wind.)

Whatever you decide, have a Happy HallowGreen!

Enviro-Friendly Cleaners for Your Office

September 1, 2011

Cleaning your office doesn’t have to mean that you’re polluting the environment in the process. There are many home and office cleaners that are enviro-friendly, effective, and cost less than their store-bought counterparts. Even better is that you likely already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.  Here’s what you’ll need.

Spray bottle and glass jar
Baking soda
White vinegar (Distilled)
Liquid soap or detergent (Choose one with natural ingredients.)

To clean the laminate surface of your desk, simply dampen a sponge with plain water and wipe clean. Dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. For more stubborn spots combine:

1 cup water
1/4  teaspoon liquid detergent
1 -1 /2 tablespoons white vinegar

Pour into clean spray bottle, spritz on spots that need more attention, wipe with a cloth. This solution can also be used to clean painted steel surfaces.

Mix water, baking soda, and a bit of liquid detergent to clean the office microwave, refrigerator, or toaster oven. Store excess in covered jar.

Straight vinegar can be used as a sanitizer and air freshener. Wipe on a surface before leaving the office at night. The smell of vinegar will dissipate by morning, leaving behind a clean smell. Vinegar can also be used to cleanse sinks or toilets seats and to eliminate molds.